Giants leave secondary exposed vs. Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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The Giants definitely missed safety Logan Ryan. 

Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul or any bona fide pass-rusher capable of harassing Tom Brady would’ve been nice to add, too. 

Julian Love struggled trying to fill Ryan’s big shoes, but he wasn’t the only culprit in the secondary as Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry was no match for his longtime rival Mike Evans. And, really, the Giants’ defensive issues in a 30-10 loss to the Buccaneers on Monday boiled down to the lack of a pass rush that made this franchise successful in two Super Bowl wins over Brady and the Patriots a lifetime ago. 

“We gave up too much and it starts with me and my guys up front,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “I don’t think I got enough pressure. I don’t think the guys up front got enough pressure on the quarterback. We needed to help out our secondary today by doing that.” 

Chris Godwin (14) celebrates his first half touchdown reception.
Chris Godwin (14) celebrates his first half touchdown reception.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

With Ryan sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test result, the Giants had no one capable of getting inside Brady’s mind by shifting his position before the snap and helping align the rest of the defensive back-seven. Love, who is more of a utility defensive back asked to play anywhere from six to 54 snaps depending on game plans this season, took over but didn’t have the intel like Ryan, Brady’s former teammate in New England. 

“We have to be able to get [Brady] off the spot,” Williams said, “and he was just sitting back there too comfortable.” 

On the Buccaneers’ game-opening touchdown drive, Love over-pursued a screen pass and slipped to the ground as Chris Godwin jogged into the end zone. Later in the first half, Love was dragged for yards after the catch by the much bigger Rob Gronkowski. To complete a trifecta in the third quarter, Love was flagged for holding on an incompletion, and the penalty turned a would-be third-and-6 at the 13-yard line into a first-and-goal. 

The real dagger came moments later via a miscommunication between Love and J.R. Reed, who was bumped up the ladder by Ryan’s absence to make his Giants debut on defense. Love and Reed accidentally double-teamed Cameron Brate after the second-string tight end went in pre-snap motion, when it appeared that Bradberry expected inside help on Evans, who boxed out the Giants’ top cornerback for a 5-yard touchdown. 

“They double-teamed the wrong guy!” analysts Eli and Peyton Manning shouted in near-unison during ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” ManningCast as the Buccaneers claimed an insurmountable 24-10 lead. 

Of course, the Giants’ secondary was in a near-impossible situation most of the game because the three- and four-man rushes in front of soft zone or soft man-to-man coverage didn’t get home. Dexter Lawrence and Reggie Ragland had the Giants’ only two hits (no sacks) on Brady, who completed his first 10 passes and kept rolling to 307 yards. 

Williams and Azeez Ojulari, who lead the Giants with 5.5 sacks apiece, were nonfactors other than Ojulari drawing a holding penalty against Tristan Wirfs that took a likely touchdown off the board for the Buccaneers. Instead of having first-and-goal at the 1-yard line late in the first half, the Buccaneers were forced into their only punt of their first seven possessions.



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